Music that makes me smile

New tunes by Fruit Bats and Rollo Jean.

This week has brought with it two records that, under normal circumstances, I think I would have hissed at but instead have taken in my embrace and allowed to define the new me. This pair of identity shakers are a bit feel-good, sort of cheesy, a bit high-five and, dare I say it, a touch glam. Fruit Bats' "You're Too Weird", off their fifth album, Tripper, could, at first, make you gag ever so slightly. It made me think of the Bee Gees in a rubbish western -- I don't want to think about that ever.

 

Then there is "St Tropez" by Rollo Jean, a deeply confusing piece that travels through a variety of genres, sprinkling stardust and sequins over all of them as it goes. To counteract all this glam, there is a slightly seedy and uncomfortable video of some girl stripping in their bedrooms to accompany it. I suspect that the boy Toby, who is behind Rollo Jean, might prove to be a rather talented chap. It can't have been easy to control a record that sounds so desperate to keep rushing off in a thousand directions. I may, any day now, come to dislike both of these records but, for now, they are making me smile.

Fresh sounds from the BBC 6 Music DJ
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Moss Side Public Laundry, 1979

A new poem by Pippa Little.

Childless I arrive with a rucksack,
own no Silver Cross steered topple-high
by the bare-legged women in check coats
and bulging shoes who load and unload
ropes of wet sheets, wring them out
to rams’ horns while heat-slap of steam
dries to tinsel in our hair, frizzles our lips
gritty with Daz sherbert dabs and the mangle,
wide as a room-size remnant, never stops groaning
one slip and you’re done for…

In the boom and echo of it, their calls swoop
over Cross-your-Hearts, Man. City socks,
crimplene pinks and snagged underskirts,
Maggie Maggie Maggie Out Out Out! blasts
from across the park, whole streets
get knocked out like teeth,
in a back alley on the way a man
jumped me, shocked as I was
by the fuck off! I didn’t know was in me

but which I try out now to make them laugh, these women
who scrub blood and beer and come
with red-brick soap, quick-starch a party dress
while dryers flop and roar
before their kids fly out of school,
flock outside for a smoke’s sweet rest
from the future bearing down of four walls and one man.

Pippa Little’s collection Overwintering (Carcanet) was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Award. Her new book, Twist, was published in March by Arc. 

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder